Feel like you are stuck in your job? Try the WOOP technique!

Everyone at some point in their career wishes to see a progression, whether it is in terms of job title, salary or additional/change of responsibilities. However often the journey of growth and progression can be full of challenges even though you may have carefully articulated and planned every step in your career.

Some challenges may not be in your control. For instance, if you find yourself wondering “If only my work peers would appreciate my contribution” or “If only my boss was a better listener”, these are factors that are out of your control but affecting your progress and productivity at work.

So how do you develop a mindset and routine that helps you achieve your goals even when have obstacles blocking your path?

Many behavioral experts and career guides suggest developing a positive attitude towards your goal. However, according to Gabriele Oettingen, a researcher and professor of social and developmental psychology, only relying on positive thinking can sometimes be counterproductive. For example, when positive thinking leads us to be content with things we already have, it can make us falsely believe that we have already achieved enough. This puts us in a fixed position where we fail to take the necessary action, believing that we have already achieved what we wanted. It makes us complacent in our careers.
Instead, Oettingen suggests adopting a technique called mental contrasting, a hybrid of goal setting & positive thinking which can help us set more realistic and achievable goals. This technique is called WOOP.

What is WOOP?

W: Wish
O: Outcome
O: Obstacle
P: Plan

On Oettingen’s website, WOOP is described as “a practical, accessible, evidence-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes and change their habits.” This technique is based on the framework of “if-then” rather than “if-only.” It is a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits.

So how do you make WOOP work for your career?

Step 1:
Identify your “Wish”. It could be anything right from getting a promotion or even something as simple as improved time-management skills or completing a course.

Step 2:
Think of the inner “Obstacle” that is deterring you from attaining your “Outcome”
For instance, is it an emotion, irrational belief, or a bad habit that is slowing or stopping you from making the necessary progress and achieving the “outcome” you desire? Perhaps time management, spending too much time on non-priority tasks, etc. are your internal deterrents.

Step 3:
Devise a “Plan” to overcome the “Obstacle” and help you achieve the “Outcome” you “Wish” for. You can make a plan simply by completing the statement “If … (obstacle), then I will … (action or thought)." Your plan can have multiple small steps.
For example, if you want to Wish to complete a certain professional course and the Obstacle identified is time management, your Plan can include investing as little as 5 minutes daily to gradually increase the time, to attain your final Outcome (Professional growth/happiness/promotion, etc.) as a result of finally completing a course.

When it comes to implementing the WOOP technique for a career, professionals often fail to ask real questions. According to the WOOP website, the method is for "people who feel stuck and don't know what to do," but also for "people whose lives seem just fine but who feel they can do better."

WOOP has been proven to improve several aspects of practitioners' professional and personal lives by giving guidance and a path to proceed and achieve what you wish for. However, if your wish is largely dependent on external obstacles for instance “I wish my boss was supportive of my inputs” or “I wish my organization had a better work culture”, the WOOP technique may not be the answer you are seeking.

However, WOOP can help to change the way you react to a certain situation or culture (obstacle) in your career path. For example ‘ You can Wish to modify the way you present your input so your boss is more receptive” or “You can Wish to find the good parts of an otherwise discouraging office culture” According to Oettingen, “By understanding what is it in [you] that stands in the way, then [you] can also overcome the obstacle. So the wish needs to be challenging, but feasible."

If you are ready to try your first WOOP, get started here. Wondering what’s next on your career path to WOOP for? Our team of recruitment experts can help you find a career or your next role that fits your skills and passion. Get in touch with our team today and WOOP it up!

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